Oregon's 'Tree City of the Year' is ready for Arbor Week
Lake Oswego is gearing up for the city's annual Arbor Week events, and this year there's an extra reason to celebrate: The Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Community Trees have named Lake Oswego the 2018 Tree City of the Year.
"It's really a big honor, and a total surprise" said Morgan Holen, Lake Oswego's contract arborist.
City officials have to apply to renew Lake Oswego's Tree City USA designation each year, Holen said. The state forestry department then processes all of the applications and picks one city for special recognition — sometimes for specific projects or, in Lake Oswego's case, simply for a general support for trees.
"Lake Oswego has consistently exemplified what a great Tree City should be, with good planning and citizen engagement," ODF Program Manager Kristin Ramstad said this week. "This award recognizes Lake Oswego for the many years of outstanding work to care for and promote a healthy urban forest."
The department also praised several ongoing projects in the city, including planting native trees on more than 250 acres of park property, arranging for the watering of street trees and developing an urban and community forestry newsletter.
As part of Lake Oswego's 29th year as a Tree City USA designate, officials plan to promote education, dialogue and voluntary stewardship. Those efforts will continue throughout the year, but they'll be front and center April 1-7 when the City celebrates Arbor Week with more than a half-dozen special events.
Here's what's planned:
• TREE PLANTING AT STAFFORD GROVE PARK (APRIL 2): Neighbors from the Forest Hills/First Addition Neighborhood Association will join Parks & Rec staff from 10-11 a.m. for a planting ceremony to commemorate Lake Oswego's Tree City of the Year designation. Directors from the Board of Oregon Community Trees will also be on hand at the park (1061 Sunningdale Road) to present the award to the city. Refreshments (including cake!) will be provided.
"A lot of Arbor Week events are geared toward children, but Monday's event at Stafford Grove Park is going to be a big deal," Holen says. "It's going to be a really fun time, and a highlight of Arbor Week."
• GARDEN BABIES (APRIL 3): Preschoolers ages 0-5 and their parents can enjoy a walk through the gardens at Luscher Farm (125 Rosemont Road) and participate in a number of garden-based activities from 10-10:45 a.m., including a story about trees and a tour of the farm's Heritage Trees. Parents must accompany children. The program will be held rain or shine, and visitors can drop in for free at any time.
• RECYCLED POTS AND SEED STARTER NECKLACES (APRIL 5): Dennis' 7 Dees Garden Center will provide supplies for kids in grades 6-8 to make easy seed pots from recycled newspaper. The free event is scheduled from 4-5 p.m. at the Lake Oswego Public Library (706 Fourth St.)
• PRESCHOOL NATURE WALK (APRIL 6): Walkers can join City staff and volunteers from 10-10:45 a.m. for a stroll through Springbrook Park on the trails behind Uplands Elementary School (2055 Wembley Park Road), complete with discovery buckets and exploration tools. Kids will learn how the trunk, roots and leaves all work to keep the trees healthy. Participants can also play "healthy tree bingo" as they walk through the park. The event is aimed at kids ages 2-6, but all are welcome.
• SEED THE WORLD AROUND YOU (APRIL 7): Kids in grades K-5 can learn about the tradition of "guerilla gardening" from 1-2 p.m. at the Lake Oswego Public Library (706 Fourth St.) by making seed balls that can be planted at home or scattered in the wild. Wildflower seeds, dirt, water and all other supplies will be provided. Participants should plan on getting their hands dirty and bringing home the makings of a new garden.
Second-graders at Forest Hills Elementary School will host their own series of celebrations during Arbor Week, led by teachers Teresa Jones, Kristin Peterson, Tammy Huske and Allison Hedgepeth. The events are open to parents but closed to the public.
The students will write about the benefits of trees on paper leaves that will be used to build a display tree at the school. After the Stafford Grove ceremony on April 2, each class will get to visit the newly planted tree and place hand-colored rocks around the base.
Then on April 4, the students will host a program featuring tree-themed songs and poetry, along with information about Arbor Day, the Tree City USA program and poet William Stafford's connection to Lake Oswego and their school.
Each class at Forest Hills also intends to submit entries to the final event for Lake Oswego's Arbor Week: the Arbor Day Art Contest.
The competition will be open to Lake Oswego students in grades K-8, and all of the entries will be mounted onto a custom frame that celebrates Lake Oswego's Tree City of the Year award.
Entries are limited to one per person and must measure 8-inches-by-10-inches in order to fit into the frames, although they can be in portrait or landscape format. The artwork can be in any medium, but should be tree-themed and celebrate Lake Oswego's status as Tree City of the Year.
"It's pretty open ended," Holen says. "What does Tree City mean to you, and why are we a Tree City? The kids can really go crazy with it."
Entries can be dropped off at Parks & Rec's Palisades building (1500 Greentree Road) or at the Lake Oswego Public Library (706 Fourth St). All entries must be received on or before National Arbor Day, which is April 27. They must include the artist's name, phone number, email address, grade and school on the back of the artwork.
The artwork will be judged on creativity and overall design based on the theme, with first-, second- and third-place winners chosen in three separate grade divisions: K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. The entries will all be displayed at the Parks & Rec office until early May.
Winners will be notified on or before May 7, and prize packs will be awarded at the Lake Oswego Farmers Market on its opening day of the season, which is May 19.
Opening-day festivities will run from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and feature a variety of forestry-themed activities, including Urban and Community Forestry booths with a prize wheel, crafts, tree pruning demonstrations and free tree seedling handouts.